Jackie Jensen

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Jack Eugene Jensen

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Biographical Information[edit]

Compact, muscular Jackie Jensen was a bona fide star who combined speed and power to achieve stardom during the 1950s. Jensen twice led the American League in RBI and averaged 21 homers and 100 RBI during nine full seasons. Known as "Golden Boy" because of his bright blond hair, Jensen was considered a possible heir-apparent to Joe DiMaggio.

For being a noted slugger, he struck out relatively little and retired at age 34 in 1959 due to a fear of flying, just after having completed yet another outstanding season. In all, Jensen played for eleven years in the bigs and won a MVP award.

After graduating from high school, Jensen went into the Navy in 1945. He was sent to radio school and then to the disciplinary barracks in Farragut, Idaho (presumably Farragut State Park as there is no municipality called Farragut) to teach swimming to prisoners. A star football and baseball player in college, he went to the University of California in 1946, and though not recruited for football, became an All-American halfback. He played in the Rose Bowl in 1949 on a California team which lost to Northwestern University.

Jensen also pitched for the Golden Bears baseball team which won the 1947 College World Series. He was ineligible to play baseball in 1948 because of academic difficulties and at the end of his junior year left school and signed to play baseball for the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League in 1949. At the end of the season he was sold to the New York Yankees. In 1949 he married his high school girlfriend, Zoe Ann Olsen, the silver medalist in diving at the 1948 Summer Olympics who had won 13 national diving titles and one other Olympic medal. Jensen and his wife divorced in 1968. Jackie and Zoe Ann had three children: sons Jon and Jay, and daughter Jan. Jay's son Tucker Jensen, a pitcher, signed with the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent in 2011.

Jensen played in 1,438 major league games as an outfielder for the Yankees, Washington Senators and Boston Red Sox. He appeared as a pinch runner in Game 3 of the 1950 World Series, as well as in three All-Star Games. He established major league records for times grounded into double play with 32 in 1954 and sacrifice flies in a season with 12 in 1955. Both records have since been broken.

He coached baseball at the University of Nevada (1970-1971) and the University of California (1974-1977). He then moved to Virginia in 1977 to operate a Christmas tree farm and run a baseball camp. He died at age 55 in 1982 from a heart attack and is buried at Amherst Cemetery in Amherst, VA. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984, posthumously. He remains the only man to play in the Rose Bowl, East-West Shrine Game, the World Series, and baseball's All-Star Game.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 3-time AL All-Star (1952, 1955 & 1958)
  • AL MVP (1958)
  • AL Gold Glove Winner (1959/RF)
  • AL Triples Leader (1956)
  • 3-time AL RBI Leader (1955, 1958 & 1959)
  • AL Stolen Bases Leader (1954)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 6 (1954-1959)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1958)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 5 (1954, 1955 & 1957-1959)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1959)
  • Won two World Series with the New York Yankees (1950 & 1951) (he did not play in the 1951 World Series)

1957 1958 1959
Mickey Mantle Jackie Jensen Nellie Fox

Further Reading[edit]

  • Mark Armour: "Jackie Jensen", in Mark Armour and Bill Nowlin, eds.: Red Sox Baseball in the Days of Ike and Elvis: The Red Sox of the 1950s, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2012, pp. 282-289. ISBN 978-1933599243

Related Sites[edit]